Monthly Archives: November 2014

New FDA Rules Will Change How You Choose Whether to Buy That Bag of Movie Popcorn

Under new FDA rules, movie theaters, chain restaurants, and supermarkets with 20 or more locations will have to provide calorie counts on the foods they sell.  The stores have until November 2015 to comply and provide calorie information on their menus.  Amusement parks, vending machines, bakeries, coffee shops, and convenience stores must also comply with the new rules.

The move to include these food establishments came from a push by the restaurant industry.  Restaurant owners argued that grocery stores and the like that sell prepared foods should also be made to place calorie counts on their food.  “Representatives for the supermarket industry have said it could cost them up to a billion dollars to put the rules in place — costs that would be passed on to consumers.”

Smaller outlets are exempt from the rules for now, as are airplanes, trains, and food trucks.

Prior Controller of Nonprofit Charged with Embezzlement

Posted by Kimberly McNamara.

A former controller of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, a nonprofit group out of New York that encourages and contributes to studies and other research dealing with congenital diseases, has been indicted, this year, for embezzlement of over $1.8 million. The organizations former controller, Karen Alameddine, who was responsible for managing finances from 2005 through January 2014, began “‘to make what in reality were transfers to her personal bank account appear as if they were wire or bank transfers to grant recipients,” according to Manhattan Federal Prosecutors.

Alameddine, who also went by the name Karen Dean, made a fake business called “Abacus Accounting,” “Chez Cheval Ranch,” “Dean & Co,” and “Karen Dean Exports,” to try and cover her tracks. She was not so successful. On November 17 of this year, she was arrested in Boston, and the following day, made an appearance in federal court and is now awaiting a transfer to Manhattan, says The NY Times.

Suspicions were raised when a complaint was made after Alameddine left the nonprofit this past January, stating that an account holder never received their check from the group.

In a statement given by the organization, “this loss was confirmed through internal investigation and a forensic audit conducted by outside legal counsel retained immediately by the foundation. . . . Although the theft was substantial, only a small amount of grant monies committed before 2104 was compromised.”

Alameddine was charged with five counts of tax evasion and one count of wire fraud.

Kim is a business administration major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

Libor Lawsuit

Posted by Deena Khalil.

On Wednesday, November 6, 2014, there was a court hearing about big-time banks being sued for manipulating a financial benchmark, Libor, by “U.S. municipalities and financial funds who argue they suffered financial damages by receiving lower interest rates on transactions as a result of the suspected manipulation.” Libor is short for the London Interbank Offered Rate, and it’s used to set the rates on things worth trillions of dollars such as loans, credit cards, and some complex derivatives. The benchmark is calculated each business day by averaging out interest rates in which banks estimate they could borrow from each other. But these banks have to be within the London trading operations in order to be part of the benchmark. Some of the banks that are being accused are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America.

Plaintiffs include U.S. municipalities and financial funds who argue they suffered financial damages by receiving lower interest rates on transactions as a result of the suspected manipulation. They allege that evidence gathered by investigators in the U.S., Europe and around the globe shows bank traders involved in the rate-setting process rigged the outcomes to boost their trading profits.

The banks accused are trying to get these cases to be dismissed There are U.S banks that have been struck with billions of dollars in penalties due to Libor manipulation. For example, JPMorgan was fined $78 million by European authorities! Some banks have settled cases, but defendant banks in the present case are seeking to dismiss due to “the lack of personal jurisdiction.” Attorneys “argued the recent Supreme Court rulings established that corporations are ‘at home’ only in their respective countries and in most cases are subject only to lawsuits filed there, not in U.S. courts.” They claim that the Libor manipulation activity occurred outside the U.S.

Deena is a business finance major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.

Media Firms Win Suspension of Comcast Deal Disclosure

Posted by ZaAsia Thompson-Hunter.

The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) is trying to enforce the disclosure of media contracts from various media companies. These companies include widely recognized corporations such as Disney, CBS, Comcast, Time Warner, and many more. These highly established media corporations oppose the order because they affirm this action will put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Earlier this month these media companies put in a request to the U.S court of appeals to stop the disclosure of their programing contracts. In response, the FCC stated that disclosure “’will aid the commission in the expeditious resolution of these proceedings.’”

Announced on November 14,2014, the media companies won the order to block the request made by the FCC. In connection, “a federal appeals court in Washington today said regulators reviewing the merger can’t immediately let third parties see the contracts.”

ZaAsia is a business administration major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.

Pension Holder Chaos

Posted by Kimberly McNamara.

The idea of pensions have been around for nearly 100 years. Detroit, a city that recently filed for bankruptcy, is now facing more monetary concerns, and many are looking for someone to blame. According to The New York Times, the city of “Detroit has been a client of Gabriel Roeder since 1938, when the city first started offering pensions. Now the city is bankrupt, the pension fund is short, benefits are being cut . . . .” Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company is a widely known, consultant and actuary firm dealing mostly with pension plans. This company was hired by the city of Detroit to calculate the amount of money coming in versus the amount of money needed for current and future pension pay-outs.

Many Detroit pension holders are now filing lawsuits against Gabriel Roeder. There are three current cases against Gabriel Roeder: one by members of Detroit’s police and firefighting force, another by Wayne County, and Ms. Estes, a citizen and pension holder in Detroit.

Now Ms. Estes has lost not only part of her pension but much of the savings tied up in her house, while she and her neighbors overpay for paltry city services. She says she might have been spared some of the misery had Gabriel Roeder warned the trustees years ago that the pension system was unsustainable and recommended changes.

Ms. Estes is just one of many who have been put in this situation created by poor business decisions. She was also told that, “she would have to forfeit $25,000 when she reaches retirement age . . . .” There are a multitude of people who had depended on their pension for retirement and simply will never see it.

Unfortunately, Gabriel Roeder would not exceptaccept the advice of other firms including government agencies like the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (G.A.S.B.). If they had, maybe Detroit’s bankruptcy situation would be different and quite possibly there would be no lawsuits being brought againstto Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company.   The firm said they “would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuits,” but lets wait and see how well that holds up in court.

Kimberly is a business major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

Stryker Corp. to Repay More than $1 Billion

Posted by Abier Mustafa.

Stryker Corp., a device maker company, recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implant devices in July 2012 after warning surgeons they could harm tissue around the hip and cause other health problems to its patients. Patients have complained of severe pain, unusual swelling and excessive metal debris in their blood, blaming all these symptoms on the Stryker devices. There are at least 1,800 cases Stryker consolidated before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul, Minnesota. After facing more than 4,000 suits consolidated in the New Jersey state court and federal court in Minnesota alone, Stryker will pay a base amount of $300,000 per patient’s case. This settlement to patients who had the devices surgically removed prior to November 3rd.

Stryker Corp. has reported more than $9 billion in revenue in 2013 on the advertisement of their hip implants lasting for years. After the devices failed patients within a short amount of time, the company has now agreed to pay more than $1 billion to resolve these lawsuits. However, “the company said that it set aside more than $1.4 billion to cover costs of handling cases over the recalled hips so the settlement fell into the “‘low end of the range of probable loss.’” “This settlement program provides patients compensation in a fair, timely and efficient manner,” Bill Huffnagle, a spokesman for Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker, said in an e-mailed statement. A source also reveals that a majority of the payments will be made by the end of 2015.

Abier is a finance major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

Honeywell Gets EU Complaint Along With DuPont Over Car Coolant

Posted by ZaAsia Thompson-Hunter.

The European Union isn’t happy with Honeywell and DuPont because they believe they are breaking antitrust rules. Honeywell and DuPont are the only two companies that produce the chemical R-1234yf. This chemical is used to produce the only car-coolant that meets the standards on the European Union’s greenhouse-gas emissions. By working together, the European Commission believes that Honeywell and DuPont are limiting the supplies of the coolant sold to other carmakers and furthermore reducing technical development. “The investigation, triggered by French company Arkema SA (AKE), also examined Honeywell’s alleged ‘deceptive conduct’ when the product was endorsed by a car-industry trade group, and whether it charges ‘fair and reasonable’ license fees to rivals who want to produce the product.” This investigation may lead to fines as much as 10% of yearly sales.

DuPont plans to fight against all accusations made by the EU because they feel they have not violated any policies and have been abiding by all the rules and laws that apply. In an e-statement, DuPont says they “will fight this every step of the way, as it has no basis in law or fact.” Additionally, in this ongoing case, Honeywell responded by saying the EU’s allegations were “baseless and conflict with the EU’s own laws that encourage collaboration on development,” according to an e-mailed statement.

ZaAsia Thompson-Hunter is a business administration/psychology major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.